Before last season, Colin Wilson had seen a lot of time in Barry Trotz’s doghouse. There were repeated questions about his effort level and about his commitment. Wilson was benched on more than one occasion and demoted to the team’s bottom lines.
At some point before the beginning of the season, however, Colin Wilson appeared to buy in to whatever the Predators coaching staff was preaching. Wilson was putting good shots on net, he was very blatantly playing hard for the puck and he started to tally points down the line.
Colin Wilson started to showcase a skill set and a scoring touch that he had not shown before. In just 25 games, Wilson scored 19 points (7G – 12A).
On March 8, during the first of back-to-back home games, Wilson played the game of his life. With Nashville clawing to stay in playoff contention, Wilson unleashed a career best 4 points (2G – 2A), leading Nashville to a 6-0 win over Edmonton.
After that win, Nashville had seemingly turned a corner with Wilson leading the charge. Had Nashville finally developed into a playoff team? Perhaps.
However, on the following night at Minnesota, Wilson fell awkwardly on his right shoulder. Almost immediately, it was obvious that something was very, very wrong…and it was. Just 25 games into the best season of his career, Wilson was done. In fact, his injury was severe enough to necessitate surgery on both of his shoulders. It wasn’t just a dagger to Wilson’s breakout season, though. It also crushed the Predators.
Following Wilson’s injury, Nashville – a team that had been barely clinging to contention – plummeted. Nashville would win just six of the team’s remaining 23 contests after Wilson’s injury and just a single game of the team’s last 11 road games.
Was Colin Wilson’s injury the reason for Nashville’s underperformance last season? Absolutely not. Nashville had scoring issues before Wilson went down. In fact, at many points in the season Wilson and Gabriel Bourque were the only players on Nashville’s team that seemed capable of creating a scoring play.
Will post-surgery, post-injury Colin Wilson be the same player that he was pre-surgery and pre-injury? Will he continue the upward climb that he started last year? Those are the big questions. For a change, Wilson at least he will not have to face questions about his commitment and his level of effort.
If a healthy, healed Colin Wilson continues the same career progression, he could become the offensive cog that Nashville has been lacking – Reggie Jackson’s proverbial “straw that stirs the drink”. Nashville lost a consistent 50-point producer in Martin Erat last season, but Wilson could become the player who carries that mantle this year.
On the other hand, it does say a little bit about Nashville’s offensive expectations when the team’s biggest threat is expected to produce 50 points.
In his four-point night against the Oilers, Wilson scored this gorgeous, video game-esque goal.
Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua
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